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Christopher Johnson, deer poacher, convicted in shooting death Pa. game warden

Christopher Johnson WHP-TV

Christopher Johnson
WHP-TV

(CBS/AP) GETTYSBURG, Pa. - Jurors convicted a deer poacher Tuesday in the shooting death of a central Pennsylvania game warden, and now they must decide whether to sentence him to execution or life in prison without parole.

The Adams County panel deliberated for less than an hour before convicting 29-year-old Christopher Johnson of first-degree murder in the November 2010 death of wildlife conservation officer David Grove.

Investigators said Johnson and a friend poached a deer that night when Grove pulled them over on a rural road near Gettysburg. A shootout began after Johnson, a convicted felon, vowed never to go back to prison. Jurors were told the two men fired 25 shots in the exchange that left Grove dead and Johnson injured.

Defense attorneys sought a lesser conviction, saying that the possible sentences are "the two worst punishments in a civilized country," and indicated that they will try to show that Johnson has empathy and there is still much of value in his life.

Jurors were brought in from neighboring Lancaster County because of the publicity surrounding the case, and they will return Wednesday to hear more testimony.

Grove was the first Pennsylvania game warden killed in the line of duty in 95 years, and more than 1,000 mourners attended his funeral.

More on Crimesider
Nov. 12, 2010 - Pa. wildlife officer shot dead while probing hunting violations, suspect arrested

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